Now the fault was easily fixed, it's true, but it caused major inconvenience to myself and another driver, who had to organise a car swap to make up for the lack of a vehicle while it was in the garage being fixed. I imagine a busy fleet driver being faced with a similar situation after driving the car for just 4,000 miles would be less than impressed.
That aside, the Rover has proved an adequate workhorse on our fleet. It does have a 'large car feel' about it, with plenty of space inside in the front and in the back for passengers, with a well-proportioned boot. The seats are exceptionally comfortable and supportive with a pleasant driving position and good all-round visibility. But the interior, which is otherwise extremely well equipped with single CD radio, driver/passenger and side airbags, electric mirrors and plenty of storage, is let down somewhat by pathetic 'twig-like' electric window switches that look as if something has fallen off them.
The 1.6-litre engine does seem a rather under-powered unit for a car of this size and could do with a bit more zip. It has a maximum speed of 118mph and accelerates from 0-60mph in 10.3 seconds. But it is fine on a long motorway run and feels as at home on country roads with positive steering and good road handling abilities. Road noise is low and the ride is smooth.
Rover's 45 offers good value for money for the company car driver with a combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 40.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 170g/km. For a 22% taxpayer covering between 2,500 and 18,000 business miles a year, the 45 driver will be paying £721 in company car tax. Come April 2002, when CO2 emissions-based company car tax is introduced, the same driver will pay £462. It is also well equipped for the £13,280 on-the-road price tag with ABS brakes, air conditioning and alloy wheels as standard.
Unlike the award-winning 75, the Rover 45 does have an image problem - largely due to the fact it is a revamped version of the Rover 400 of the early 1990s.